EWCS 2010 - Mapping working conditions in Europe: all reports

The European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) is Eurofound's longest running survey, and has become an established source of information about working conditions and the quality of work and employment. With five waves having been implemented since 1990, it enables monitoring of long-term trends in working conditions in Europe.

The scope of the survey questionnaire has widened substantially since the first edition, aiming to provide a comprehensive picture of the everyday reality of men and women at work. Gender mainstreaming has been an important concern for recent reviews of the questionnaire.

Themes covered today include employment status, working time duration and organisation, work organisation, learning and training, physical and psychosocial risk factors, health and safety, work-life balance, worker participation, earnings and financial security, as well as work and health. This research gave rise to the 5th EWCS Overview report.

Fifth European Working Conditions Survey - Overview report Work plays a significant role in the lives of people, companies and society at large. Since its inception, the European Union has paid considerable attention to work, and improving working conditions is one of its key policy goals. The European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) series aims to: Measure working conditions across European countries on a harmonised basis; analyse relationships between different aspects of working conditions; identify groups at risks and issues of concern, as well as areas of progress; monitor trends over time; and contribute to European policy development, in particular on quality of work and employment issues. The report is also available as an e-book.


Since, a new series of reports has been published, providing further analysis of important dimensions of quality of work in Europe:

The intention behind the report Trends in job quality was to find an objective means of assessing the principle established in a number of EU directives that work should adapt to the workers. Increased understanding of the social costs of poor job quality has focused attention on physical and social environments at work. Prolonged life expectancy and the ageing of the population suggest that jobs will have to be of good quality if more workers are to be persuaded to work longer. The indices constructed for this study do not rely on subjective measurement such as preferences and attitudes, but are built on the self-reported features of jobs that are associated with workers’ well-being.


The report Sustainable work and the ageing workforce considers the dimensions of work that have proved essential to the understanding of work sustainability: working conditions; physical and psychological health; the expressive dimension of work; reconciliation of working and non-working time; and socioeconomic conditions. It examines the influence of these factors on how older workers perceive the sustainability of their work, taking account of differences between workers in terms of age, occupation and gender.



Work organisation and employee involvement explores the opportunities open to employees in workplaces across Europe to participate in decision-making, either in the context of their job or in relation to wider organisational issues affecting their work. Employee involvement is a key component of work organisation. Two dimensions of employee involvement are covered: task discretion – or the influence that employees can exercise over their immediate work tasks – and organisational participation – or the influence that employees have over work organisation.



Women, men and working conditions highlights gender differences across several dimensions of working conditions, examining relevant country differences, analysing the different occupational groups of both men and women, and comparing the public and private sectors. It also looks at the impact of the crisis on gender segregation in employment. Despite much legislative progress in gender equality over the past 40 years, there are still gender gaps across many aspects of the labour market.



Alongside these in-depth reports, eight other research reports have been produced:

Convergence and divergence of job quality in Europe 1995–2010 examines the upward and downward trends in job quality across the EU from 1995 to 2010. The improvement and harmonisation of working conditions are core objectives of the European Union, but many factors affect job quality. The report determines the statistical significance of trends in key dimensions of job quality and maps the patterns of convergence and divergence. It offers an up-to-date analysis of changes in job quality across the EU, providing new insights to inform policymaking. The study concludes that dedicated political effort is still needed to improve job quality since this does not appear to be an automatic consequence of economic or technological development.


National working conditions surveys in Europe: A compilation describes surveys in 15 EU Member States that meet two conditions: they are national, covering all or most of the working population; and they relate at least primarily to working conditions issues, such as health and safety at the workplace, work organisation, quality of working life and work–life balance. For each survey, characteristics include the survey name, institute responsible, territorial scope, sectors and population covered, and sample size.


The report Policy lessons from the fifth EWCS: The pursuit of more and better jobs examines the evidence and policy lessons that can be drawn from the findings of the fifth European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) carried out in 2010. The focus is on the links between working conditions and labour market participation in the light of the EU’s longstanding policy pursuit of more and better jobs. The report also assesses how the EWCS is valued by policy users and researchers.


Occupations where job quality is consistently low are labelled ‘occupations with multiple disadvantages’, where conditions are such that it is difficult for people to stay in such jobs. The report Occupational profiles in working conditions: Identification of groups with multiple disadvantages uses data from the fifth European Working Conditions Survey to identify such occupations. It finds that workers in mid-skilled manual and low-skilled occupations do quite poorly when it comes to earnings, prospects and intrinsic job quality.


Quality of employment conditions and employment relations provides an in-depth analysis of the quality of employment conditions and employment relations in the European employed workforce. Employment in the report is viewed as the contractual relationship between an employer and a worker, specifically how the rights and duties embedded into the relationship are translated into real rights.



The research in Working conditions and job quality: Comparing sectors in Europe aims to capture the diversity prevalent across sectors in Europe in terms of working conditions and job quality. It pinpoints trends across sectors in areas such as working time and work–life balance, work organisation, skills and training, employee representation and the psychosocial and physical environment. Read more information on the individual sectors.



The report Working time and work–life balance in a life course perspective investigates how working time is organised and how this is impacting on balance of work versus private life. This report documents the prevailing working time patterns of employees, the self-employed and lone parents across five country clusters. It also analyses the relationship between paid employment and domestic activities, work–life balance and working time preferences across the life course.



The Health and well-being of individuals at work are two dimensions around which researchers and policymakers are rearranging the debate on how to foster the progress of societies. Health and well-being have an intrinsic value, which should be part of the very definition of progress, and also a societal one because of their direct connection with issues such as labour force participation, productivity and sustainability. This report aims to contribute to the debate.